|Alex Herrmann, director of the Americas for Switzerland Tourism and Jurg Schmid, CEO of Switzerland Tourism|
Travel Agent just attended the 2015 Switzerland Travel Mart. Held outside in Zermatt this year, the event attracted about 480 tour operators from around the globe. These operators spent two days meeting with 360 Swiss tourism suppliers in open-air chalets, which were built for the event. Specifically, there were 45 attendees from North America, which was the largest delegation along with the delegation from China. Switzerland hopes that all of the global tour operators will bring 2.3 million visitors to the country.
Switzerland is attracting several markets for around the globe. More travelers from Asia are coming to the European destination individually, without tour groups. Those visiting from the U.S. market are mostly coming to Switzerland as part of a larger European trip, or they are completing tours before or after a river cruise. Also, thanks to a stronger U.S. dollar, more Americans are feeling confident again about traveling to Switzerland.
However, Travel Agent noticed that Switzerland is also putting a lot of effort into attracting fellow Europeans through the new program, the “Ground Tour of Switzerland.” This new tour, which will be fully marked with signs by next summer, encourages visitors to drive along an almost 1,000-mile road route to discover the whole country. The European countries, without including Russia, are projected to make up 31.6 percent of Switzerland's guests in 2016.
“From many markets, especially from Europe, many people drive to Switzerland. So for these audiences (that are) surrounded by car(s), it is natural,” explains Alex Herrmann, director of the Americas for Switzerland Tourism.
|The Matterhorn, Zermatt|
The tour includes 12 route stages and 44 attractions. An example route encourages travelers to drive from Zermatt to Ascona, allowing them to see places like Montreux, Interlaken, Zurich and more along the way.
Herrmann also told Travel Agent that another advantage of the route is that some of Switzerland’s mountain passes and attractions are easier to reach by car. As for the American and Canadian travelers, Herrmann says that many of them are choosing to see the country by train and the Swiss Travel Pass sales are up with these groups.
Travel Agent also learned about some major developments that will be coming to Switzerland next year. In Zurich, the extension of the Swiss National Museum will open in 2016 along with the FIFA World Football Museum. Also, in the spring of next year the Kunstmuseum will reopen in Basel. However, it was no mistaking that the Swiss are most excited about the opening of the longest railway tunnel, Gotthard. Gotthard will connect Northern and Southern Europe in June of 2016.
Keep reading Travel Agent for more from this year's event.